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City will pay half the bill to extend water main to new restaurant location

LACONIA — The City Council this week unanimously authorized the expenditure of up to $35,000 toward the cost of installing a 10 inch water main-line to the former Evangelical Baptist Church on Veterans Square, which David and Maureen Kennedy of Hampton, owners of Holy Grail Food and Spirits, intend to convert to a restaurant and pub.

The council acted on the recommendation of the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board to draw half the cost, up to $35,000, of the water line from the TIF fund, which has a current balance of $311,353 and projected revenue of $173,687 this year. The Kennedys will bear half the cost extending the line from Main Street to the lot.

City Manager Scott Myers explained that the current 1-inch-line water service to the building would not support a sprinkler system, which the building and fire codes require of a restaurant. Furthermore, he explained that extending the larger line to the historic church building would provide capacity to expand water service to other properties in the vicinity, particularly the railroad station.

On behalf of the Downtown TIF Advisory Board, Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, explained that once the church building is returned to the tax rolls, the TIF fund will begin recovering its investments in property tax revenue. Above all, he said that facilitating the conversion of the property was in keeping with the mission of the TIF District to encourage private investment and economic development in the center of the city.

Kennedy discussed his plans for the building with the city's Technical Review Committee last week and is scheduled to seek the approval of the Planning Board next month. Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that "we fast tracked this project."
Kennedy said that he expects to close on the purchase of the building from the church next month and anticipates completing the conversion in seven months. The restaurant will be the Kennedys' second, both housed in churches. The Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub in what was St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Epping has twice been chosen as the state's finest Irish pub by New Hampshire Magazine.
NOTE: The City Council authorized City Manager Scott Myers to purchase another 300 recycling toters to sell to residents at a discounted price. Myers said that the Department of Public Works (DPW) sold the last of the initial batch of 1,000 64-gallon toters in August and had a list of some 75 residents wishing to buy if the offer was renewed. He said that the price of the toters has risen from $45 to $55, but suggesting offering them for sale with the same $20 discount. The net cost to the city of $6,000, Myers said could be drawn from the DPW's operating budget without issue.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 10:32

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Gilford schools returning $1.5 million to taxpayers

GILFORD — After closing the books on the 2012-2013 school year, district administrators said they have a $1.476-million (6.4 percent) surplus that will be returned to taxpayers in the form of a credit against this year's property tax commitment.

School Board Chair Sue Allen said yesterday that there were no emergency or safety issues that have to be addressed so the plan is to return it all.

"Our goal is always to the mindful of the taxpayers," Allen said.

The 2012-2013 school district budget was $22,992,075 of which $14,049,394 was raised by local taxes. Town Finance Director Geoff Ruggles said the local school budget accounted for $9.21 per $1,000 in assessment or about one-half of the total tax rate of $18.31.

School Business Administrator Scott Isabelle said yesterday that the revised amount to be raised by local taxes in 2013 is estimated now to be $13,089,289 but it hasn't been confirmed by the N.H. Department of Revenue.

Superintendent Kent Hemingway said yesterday that three things contributed to the surplus — an overage in the special education budget, health insurance, and, most importantly, energy savings.

Last year, he said, the school district took some of the previous year's surplus and replaced the boiler at the Gilford High School. He said the district had thought they could get a few more years out of it but at the end of last year realized it was cracked.

"That alone saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars," Hemingway said.

He said the school district budgets for the maximum allowable increase in health insurance every year — a figure guaranteed to them by their insurance underwriter — but last year the actual rates were lower than what was budgeted. Because of the budgeting schedule, the district doesn't typically have the exact rate of increase until well after the budget has been prepared and accepted by the voters.

Hemingway said they also budgeted more for heating oil and credited the school district's participation in a loyal oil-buying consortium that negotiates the best possible price for its oil.

As for the 2014-2015 budget, Hemingway said he and Business Administrator Scott Isabelle are paring down the individual school requests and will have a total draft budget available for the School Board annual budget workshop session on October 28.

Hemingway said replacing the telephone system is the major capital improvement project the school district needs for 2014-2015. He said the existing system is no longer supported by the available software and there is no way to continually service it.
He said the district has a medium range capital goal of repaving all of the parking lots.

Both of those capital requests are part of the town's Capital Improvement Project plan.

Allen said she is equally confident that the school administration will present them with a reasonable annual budget for the next school year.

She said the school district is negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the teachers' union they hope to bring to voters at the annual district (SB-2) Deliberative Session.

She said members will likely get the draft budget on October 25 and will have the weekend to digest it. The budget workshop is scheduled for 5 p.m. on October 28.

The next School Board meeting is November 4 and the School District is scheduled to present its 2013-2014 annual budget request to the Budget Committee on December 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 October 2013 02:51

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Tilton police investigating chocolate store robbery

TILTON — Police are actively investigating Tuesday's robbery of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Store in the Tanger Outlet Center.

Police chief Robert Cormier said a white male between the ages of 25 and 30 entered the store at 7:35 p.m. had the clerk open the register and he removed an unknown amount of cash. No one was injured.

The alleged robber was described as being about 5-feet 8-inches tall and wearing a ball cap, a gray hooded sweatshirt, and light blue jeans. Police said he had a beard.

Police responded with a K-9 and conducted a search of the area but were unable to find the robber.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Tilton Police at 603-286-4442 or the TIP Crime Line at 855-286-6565.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 03:06

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5 local lawmakers get 'A' grades from N.H. Business & Industry Association

CONCORD — Both state senators from the Lakes Region — Republican Jeanie Forrester of Meredith and Democrat Andrew Hosmer of Laconia — were named "Champions of Business" by the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association (BIA) for their voting record in the 2013 legislative session. But, only three of the 18 state representatives from Belknap County earned the title.

Forrester and Hosmer posted identical scores of 89 percent while differing on just two of the nine "pro business" votes tracked by the BIA. Hosmer voted against and Forrester voted for a bill to convene a committee to study privatizing the prison system, which the BIA favored, while Forrester voted for and Hosmer voted against a bill to establish a moratorium on new generation and transmission facilities pending the outcome of a study, which the BIA opposed.

Among the 13 Republican representatives in the county delegation, Frank Tilton of Laconia posted a perfect score of 100 percent and was joined by Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, with 88 percent, and Don Flanders of Laconia, with 86 percent, as a "Champion of Business."

Five other Republicans — Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, Bob Greemore, Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith and Mike Sylvia of Belmont scored 75 percent. They were followed by Stephen Holmes and Jane Cormier of Alton, both with 71 percent. Bob Luther of Laconia and Guy Comtois scored 67 percent while Chuck Fink of Belmont, scored 57 percent, the lowest score among the Republican members.

Three of the five Democrats in the county delegation — Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, David Huot of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — scored 63 percent while Ruth Gulick of New Hampton scored 50 percent and Beth Arsenault of Laconia 40 percent.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 03:00

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